tv The Civil War CSPAN September 3, 2016 6:00pm-7:17pm EDT
about improving and expanding the teach in of the reconstruction era at historic sites. they called for the better use sitesil war battlefield for presenting reconstruction history. this is part of the annual summer conference hosted by the gettysburg college civil war institute. >> good evening, everybody, and welcome back for our evening session. it is my pleasure to serve as moderator for this evening's roundtable discussion on finding reconstruction at historic sites. i would like to begin by introducing our three panelists. gregory downes is an associate professor of history at the university of california-davis rid his research focuses on 19 entry u.s. political and cultural history and the .ransformative impact
he has several books including " the long reconstruction of popular politics in the south" and "after appomattox: military occupation and the end of war." for those of you who were not with us last year, "after the lens of the military to examine the time after the confederate surrender as an expansion of wartime. the last several years, dr. inns has been very active broadening public understanding of the reconstruction era. co-edited a new essay collection "the world the civil which seeks to redefine the united states.
are also look at sites that appropriate for memorializing reconstruction. , dr. lowe,eaker earned ma and phd degrees from the university of washington -seattle. she served as the program manager for the underground railroad freedom program, which places minority college students from across the country and paid summer internships with parks and program offices, state historic preservation offices, local and state governments, and private organizations. her academic fields of interest or african american history, 20 century u.s. history, and women's history. she has been one of the primary in theand shakers landmark theme study on
reconstruction dr. downs is also working on. emmanuel dabney is the park curator at petersburg national battlefield in petersburg, virginia. from thea ba university of mary washington and an ma. he has participated in numerous talks in living history presentations on slavery, the civil war, and reconstruction at a variety of public history sites, professional institutions, and conferences across the country. and his co-authors are in the audience this evening, think. you can find them on the blog a spear at interpretive challenges where he poses interesting
questions about reinterpreting construction history at historic sites. so, as we have talked about in so many of our previous sessions, reconstruction marks the transition from slavery to freedom and citizenship for nearly 4 million enslaved african-americans. it was a time of almost head spinning constitutional change for americans north and south. some were rolled back on a tide of violence 20 years after lee surrendered at appomattox. reconstruction is undoubtedly one of the most important times of american history, but also one of the least well understood. there are many reasons for this. for generations, scholars influenced by the lost cause portrayed reconstruction as a time characterized not by an expansion of mockers in civil rights, but by political corruption and revenge. generations of americans corrupt
with a deeply racialized interpretation of the era, which shaved everything from the way historic sites talked about reconstruction -- if they talked what seventhll, to graders learned about the era. and even though the scholarship has changed dramatically in the last 30 years, as we have certainly seen in the last few days. wayas not made as much as headway as we would hope and transforming public deception. this era also often gets short shrift in curriculums and sometimes in college classrooms as well. i think both due to its complexity and timing, which falls right around that marked on the u.s. history timeline where a lot of courses begin or end. submit that many of you at some point in your life have titled u.s.se history through 1865 or u.s. history since 1870 seven.
i am no math whiz, but i think there are a couple numbers missing there. [laughter] but sometimes even courses that begin atgh 1877 or 1865 rush through reconstruction. sites and to historic museums or another of the key ways that people encounter history still do not have impact in this area either. there are museums doing wonderful programming on the era. there is the ongoing commemoration of the 1866 memphis massacre which is been getting a lot of coverage. of their his work happening at mps -- nps sites like chickamauga and chattanooga, and there are plans for the new smithsonian museum of african american history and culture and there are others as well, certainly. but certainly reconstruction continues to be broadly
underrepresented and broadly interpreted. this has consequences, real consequences. our core collective understanding of the triumphs and failures of the reconstruction experiment affects our ability to have thoughtful, honest, and historically informed conversations about so many equality,economic voting rights, terrorism, the influence of money in politics, the relationship between the federal government and individual americans and the parameters of citizenship. of these are biggest issue -- these are among the biggest issues of our own age and i don't think it is going too far to say the way we experience them in the present has been shaped in part by the legacies -- plural, not singular, of reconstruction. over the next hour, we hope to havehe conversations we had as a springboard to talk about reconstruction history in a public setting, about why this
can still be a challenge to interpret the range of historic sites out there that could and in some cases do explore reconstruction stories, the issues that such sites can or could raise with visitors, and ways historic sites like thelefields and plantations way they reframe the postwar history. will haver analysts remarks then we will open it up and have discussion. all right. >> well, good evening. there is nothing like coming right after dinner to encourage us to pep up our game. i am excited to talk about this
which i think is an energetic thing to explore. reach question is how to an audience, it establishes a equalitying place and between professional historians and people in the public who are interested in history, which is to say we make no claim to understand exactly how and why non-historians, whoever they are, whatever people would not grow up to be his aryans, how non-historians engage with history. and these talks are especially illuminating. i am not going to focus so much on historiography -- i will be on another panel on tuesday, and i'm going to talk about the bigger picture.
our project for the volume, how we came to this, how ofestablish the framework what the national park system is doing. matter? it what is it matter how and whether we interpret reconstruction in public places and especially public parks -- we think about a couple of things. what is important? what has kept it from happening before and what are the opportunities that lie in front of us. i think some of these are self historians, but it is a dramatic moment in the making
of the american nation. it is the second founding it as ave to establish moment of the founding of the national effort. a way to make in many ways a new constitution, and a way to remake labor and politics and gender and help us to rethink our understanding of what free labor means, what citizenship means, the relationship between the national and the local government, and how to create, what basic rights that go along with being a citizen are, and things that we all believe are crucially important for americans to understand and think through. and yet, if the prior generation of historians encountered people who had strongly contrary views of reconstruction based on
teaching reconstruction as a failure, increasingly historians find when they talk about reconstruction, especially to younger audiences, they face not skepticism, but complete that moment. vision of reconstruction was unsustainable, it has been replaced in many places by silence. we face not just the problem of older, inaccurate views, but dealing with a public that does not know much about reconstruction at all. and the final reason i believe that sustaining reconstruction is crucial is reconstruction a good place for -- to thinkon to about the nature between rights and force, the relationship between force and freedom and
this effort of using the past to think analytically, to ask questions about the present based on the past that has always been central to the historical profession. it as something that is seen as historians,duty as to sharpen the ways of approaching complex problems between federal government and local governments, the relationship between force and rights, the relationship of military law and other things like that and this is what the american historical association called the laboratory of human experience.
that, we havet do a dramatic story, we have a story that document -- that shapes the documents we all about ouro think urgent problems of today -- if we don't take advantage of that is historians we should fold up our tents because this is the best opportunity we have. some of this goes to the power of older and now largely discredited schools. some of it also speaks to issues i spoke about more at length last year about the artificial and a historic separation and the allegedly separate time of peace time reconstruction. this continues to lead us to separate in our minds a story of the national unification from a
negative political story of reconstruction. argued last year, this is in many ways an artifact of generals, politicians, attorneys who argued that the continuity of wartime and war powers meant ands after the civil war the surrender of the confederate armies it continued to be a piece of the civil war. my colleagues spoke ably about this earlier in the conference s.relation to ulysses grant. the problems in the process that began in 1861 in many ways endured the late 1860's, but by
separating these two, we have made a national memory of the war and a national memory -- forgetting of reconstruction. we need to use the passion of interest around the civil war to understand these first years of reconstruction as a continuation of the civil war with its meanings and its attributes. the separation between war and reconstruction is one of the great obstacles to fulfilling our duty -- and i do believe it is a duty, not a choice, an obligation of our profession to convey the importance of this provides extraso ordinary opportunity, which is many of the same thoughts we have about the war have a powerful reconstruction story. sites where the story has been foreclosed at the
end of battlefield fighting in ways that obscure the centrality of the reconstruction story at those sites. the very thing that has lead us not to take advantage of the battlefields rights -- battlefield sites in many ways -- i will talk briefly about this in a second -- we saw how many of these are perpetrated solely about the war have powerful, meaningful evident reconstruction stories that emerge from the sites. that is our goal from the bottom up. onis a frustration we felt the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the civil war and haveong sense that there been numerous efforts to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the civil war, but in 2012, 20 13, many historians were gravely skeptical there would be a capacity to honor and commemorate this 150th anniversary of reconstruction we
are in now. i think the frustration that bubbled up among historians, this potential -- great, with theg might stop 150th anniversary of battlefield fighting little historians to think, this is an opportunity we have to take or we will never get back. that impulse led them to offer this, which i think is a really bold efforts to make and itruction the center think you all taking advantage of it is incredible at this time, for me, for the profession, or the idea of preserving the public history of reconstruction. national park service with historians to come plans, many of which have been germinating for a long time, some of them within decades, and define how
historians could help each other to create momentum and force of this moment to make sure we made use of it. we had to develop the first national park handbook on reconstruction, which came out this spring, has many distinguished historians -- many of which have spoken or are holt, davide -- tom blight, many other historians -- which aims to be written for an audience that walks into historic national sites, battlefields, and written for them in a way that helps them fill in this gap. -- i hope it is being sold at gettysburg. held at manybeing other sites. and manyichael allen others.
it is a theme study that is as antly under review model and a framework for people who operate our parks in a way that points out specific areas where there is capacity to do good things on reconstruction and build on existing frameworks and adjusters to places where it is doing well. this has been the exciting process we have been on for the last year and a half, traveling to places, learning about things that the park service has done. staffis incredible represented here and how the park service is a potential fulcrum for change so 25 years from now we are not having the same conversation about why the public does not understand reconstruction that we are still in the grips of having today. [applause]
>> good afternoon. evening now. good evening. don't let the chocolate chip and the vanilla dipped ice cream put you to sleep, ok? [laughter] lowe: thank you for inviting us here and giving us an opportunity to be part of this conversation for the national park service. our discussion of reconstruction really emerges from our discussions of the civil war's 150th commemoration. 16 years ago, we as an agency decided we did not want to perceive the absences of the
1977 centennial celebration. the agency national park service focuses mainly on military maneuvers, the battle, and we decided then in the agency, it expand those stories, to tell a more complete story of the civil war, and not just ended with the surrender in appomattox. that also brings up happy juneteenth, everyone. 1sts is the 150 of th anniversary of gordon granger writing into galveston, texas and reading general order 53, finally, finally having the last confederates understand the sender render of appomattox -- understand the surrender of appomattox had occurred in april. there is the question of where
these civil war ends, and history does not stop at certain dates like you would like to package them in. in terms of the national park service efforts, i am just brief effort.a i will give a background of some of those, how we and the park service are moving forward with for our parks sites, how we are looking to identify unknown sites, but also recognize those sites that have that weuction stories have not interpreted in the past. so, again, talking about our , she mentionedok
our principal editors for the handbook -- the handbook for the ouronal park service, historical work which guides the interpretation of a historic theme in the united states. the impious handbook gives out the official position of the national park service, scholarly academic position on the major in history.period we do have one for the american revolution and other topics within the united states. strategyathered our for how we would commemorate the civil war and determined that we would include interpretation of this,construction era in we had to formulate our own academic response to what the reconstruction era is and was and how we at the national park service through our unit and
programs would move forward in documenting and engaging with visitors. the handbook is available. online.order copies and it is available in the back with thewell as national park sites. of our first efforts was aslook at reconstruction era a period in united states history, but also a program. we had to look at reconstruction we wouldte time period confine ourselves looking at u.s. history at this time. we also needed to recognize that reconstruction was a program. it was a program to determine
how the united states as a would move 4.5 million people from bondage into citizenship. so, we had to look at where in the national park service did we already have reconstruction era stories where this deals with the period. those parks, the significance of those parks occurs within reconstruction, do we had to look at where we interpret the movement of these 4.5 million human beings freedom.age into we found dozens and dozens of our sites actually have reconstruction stories.
haveny of them actually significant reconstruction stories. but we found we did not have one national park service unit that was specifically targeted to how doeshe question of the united states move 4.5 ?illion out of slavery so, that was one of our challenges we have been dealing with through the research we are doing now and we have been asking the public to help us identify those sites. these are some of the stories. we have had an effort the last couple of years to do primary andand secondary research to look at .ome of the stories we have for sumter, the flag raising -- most of you know about the flag raising at fort
sumter after the surrender of confederate forces. but most people do not know that robert smalls, who was a enslaved-- formerly person who stole a ship called the planter and sailed it behind union lines, he was in the harbor, in charleston harbor on the planter that day, protect ring those who were participating -- protecting those who work participating in the flag re-raising ceremony. that was a story we had not interpreted at our four sumter site. -- fort sumter site. our historic site that commemorates the work of occur washington. t. we do not interpret the site necessarily as an education
site, but a site that just happens to have been founded during reconstruction. and we have stories in our parks that look at the residence of our harks during reconstruction from the transition during atvery to freedom such as bishop, one of our historical park guides -- she was the grandson and the sun of -- and on of enslaved guides. so, getting to identifying sites which are not with the park service, but may be owned by the local communities, we have a program known as the national historic landmark program that tell thes sites that
significance of american history. we have a little over 2500 of these sites, and they are really partnership sites that we the federal government recognize is very important for the foundation of the united states. sites is hand center historic district national historic landmark. penn center is an african-american school that was founded after the battle of port royal in 1861 when the union army defeated the confederate blockade innavy south carolina and moved into hilton head. many of those who were enslaved on the island, a lot of the white plantation owners left the area so they self emancipated.
way,e union army made its and navy made its way into the beaufort hilton head area. they found the school, northern missionaries following the call of lincoln to help educate freed people. they found the school in 1862. it is still in existence today. it is within the beaufort school system, but it also presents educational programs for state teachers and other educational institutions and organizations of the country. nhl pain studies on reconstruct -- theme studies on reconstruction that greg was talking about. -- is congressionally
authorized. we in the national park service, if we see there is an absence of scholarly research on a topic in american history can decide to move forward with doing research to identify historic sites that may be should be designated as national historic landmarks. the holdinglanning, the high ground planning 16 years ago, we determined a study needed to be conducted so we could compare, identify and compare historic sites of national significance related to the reconstruction era. this is the study that greg and kate are helping of ys -- us with right now. we have an expanded period. reconstruction begins during the civil war. we chose to expand beyond the traditional 1877 end date of the reconstruction program to
capture the reconstruction period. inended with 1898 consideration of the wilmington race riot that occurred as a coup d'etat where seven the -- white supremacy supporters stage a coup against the interracial government of wilmington, forcing out those african-american and white supporters of civil rights and african-american citizenship from the country. the study as it currently stands focuses on the confederate south. this have plans to expand into other geographical areas, but also to take the study beyond just looking at african-american freedom and toedom that fr -- freed men
native americans and asian-americans, looking at the history during the reconstruction era. we wanted to expand beyond looking at the reconstruction program to looking at the reconstruction era as we move along with our historic context. what you see now our current areas of study. as i said we will be adding to those in the future as time and capacity allows. i'm a little bit more optimistic about the timeline to the summer instead of fall. [laughter] fingers crossed. goals and next steps archery -- are create more partnerships. by workingarvest with greg and kate and the other scholars that worked on our handbook. our goal is to create more
research partnerships. we need more historians like yourselves to tell us the information we are missing in our parks. capacity and the the national park service to do all the work ourselves. we are really looking to the academic and scholarly community to partner with us to tell us what we don't know and what we should know and what we should interpret to our visitors. next to support communities. not every historic site can become a national park unit. you haveou, all of historic sites in your local communities that you could be supporting right now to tell your local stories. we want to assist you with that. we want to assist you with how do you preserve the materials of these sites, how do you construct exhibits, how do you put on programs.
we want to be a resource for local communities to reserve their artifacts, preserve their stories and tell those stories to their own visitation. and preserve and protect. not only the historic places but also the collections that we find. nationally significant reconstruction of events and stories. thank you so much. [applause] >> good evening. don't go to sleep on us. [laughter] >> are not done yet. >> we are just getting started.
the national historic , i sort ofeme study interestingly enough sort of heard about greg and kate's work through an article in the atlantic about a year and a half ago. for no thought of greg or kate but through the that seemedof words like nobody cared about reconstruction or they did and they were not doing it because there was some sort of magical forces preventing us from doing this work. i soon got a call from michael allen, who has been mentioned multiple times now. we had a long conversation and he invited me, which one of the odd things about the park service is that virginia is
in the northeast region of the national park service. we are in the geographic southeast region. michael clearly understood if you skip virginia, the largest a lot oft in 1860, people that were emancipated by 1865. you would be missing a big group of people who also experienced reconstruction. missing a lot of confederate soldiers, four x confederate soldiers -- or ex-confederate soldiers. there were some issues to tackle. i know my friend kevin will do that in his william a home conversation tomorrow. my objective is to sort of highlight some places that are doing some level of reconstruction work. site that we manage
in some national park sites. is the virginia state capital. you will not see any green panted and gray shirted people. it is a great place. i am biased, virginia is the best place in the nation. sorry to all others. there is some museum space in this building. lower-level of the building features some exhibit space that describes on one side of the hall the confederate experience in that building, and then on the other side of the hall it 67-1868es the 18 constitutional convention which had 24 black men out of 104
delegates sent to this facility. that is a pretty remarkable thing considering that black men have not been able to vote or participate in political office in the antebellum and wartime virginia. here is theou see old house chamber. if you will notice there is a statue standing on the left side of the image that represents , who on that very spot in april of 1861 accepted the command of virginia's military forces before virginia was out of the union but not officially in the confederacy. thes also in that room that members of the constitutional convention met in 1867 and 1868. there were legislators, black legislators and white and 1870's. assembly,0's general
who were representing the earlier period, the republicans and later period the readjustors. al a little-- ste bit of kevin's thunder. every adjustors -- the readjustors were only a part of virginia political party. it's issues with debt and funding, paying the debt, not paying the debt, the readjustors on a national level, and volume mahone will be caucusing with the republicans. that will create a lot of drama in the postwar virginia. just across the room from this large statue of robert e. lee excepting virginia's military force command, there is this image.
it is on an easel. frank leslie's illustrated news representing members of virginia's state constitutional convention. glued on if you will. assigned at the top right discusses the details of the constitutional convention. why it came about, black versus white, but the objectives were of that meeting which did result in a new constitution in 1869. but the invisible tension between these two events could be made stronger. i admit maybe it is a guided tour. you are allowed to sort of wonder around on your own and that is what i was doing the last couple of times i have been there. dedicated and capable of a
general as he was during the civil war could not wrap his mind around the circumstances of blacks after emancipation. in a conversation held during the summer of 1865, lee remarked to another veteran of his army, "i have always observed that wherever you find the negro everything is going down around him. and wherever you find the white man you see everything around him improving." this conversation is not created by some invisible anti-robert e lee force that i'm sure some people will try to say that it is. it is written down by his own youngest son, robert e. lee junior. what is missing in this current display is some account for the tension between the ring of
confederate leaders and slaveholding chief justice john marshall and slaveholding revolutionary patrick henry in this old house chamber. and those black convention members in the aftermath of confederate surrender. is af those marble busts political enemy of william mahone and his readjustor party is lee's nephew, part of the active funders which were virginia's democrats in the late 1870's and 1880's. therefore there is no happiness of fitzhugh lee that there are black members of the general assembly sitting in the old senate chamber, and in the old house chamber. i just thought of this today. it is funny and it's a powerpoint presentation tatian to -- presentation to put into a
powerpoint presentation. [laughter] also is chimberazo parks. he was a confederate hospital in the fall of 1861 and april 1865. that is the only history that people immediately recognize about the civil war. 1901, the st., louis republished that republic published an article. it inform the readers there was only one remaining building in the hospital. it was occupied as it had been for many years by "old servant braxton harwood." the article states that recently freed people occupied buildings after the hospital had closed and that in the troubles and reconstruction period when race feeling ran high, it was
perilous for a white man to enter these precincts. many a white paid at night the price of his hardihood in death. this was just a hand in this article to something that was more complex at this site. i didn't know about the newspaper article. i knew would sort of existed but not even at that level. last year i was talking to a friend of mine who works there. some of you may be able to see him in the image and the powerpoint. mike gorman. searchfound that family had all these friedman -- freedman's bureau records. to get obsessive about things and say until 2:00 in the morning. i was like there is the richmond stuff, caps on. i'm working on the petersburg stuff. we just jumped in at 2:00 a.m.
he continued on with the richmond work and found all thes of details about richmond experience more broadly. he turned this obsession of his into two public programs. then insideur and in february at night, you don't really want to walk around chimborazo. 75 people showed up for this particular program. was not the topic of the conversation. instead, he focused on what he found. some of what he had found, including the numbers of people living at chimborazo after it was the largest confederate hospital. on june 24, 1865, they were 2571 freed men, women and children.
only 218 were unable to find work. as with many places there was a riot. this one in early march of 1866. the police responded and afterwards it was a march of armed lack men -- black men, something else that didn't happen in antebellum richmond. the newspaper reported several fights between whites and blacks. by the 24th for whatever reason en's bureau stopped managing chimborazo. several black children got into a rock fight with white children from rockets landing. several armed people been fired weapons randomly into the air to break up the fight. the guy that knew comes in and his faces and partly blown off in the rats are running around and there trying
to chase them out and people not really respecting her, but we did not know really anything more about the postwar article in the st. louis republic other than old braxton as he is repeatedly called. petersburg national battlefield, we have this large plantation house. is a part of our grant headquarters at city point unit. when people come they don't expect to see a big plantation house or hear anything about plantation, slavery or definitely not the aftermath. but we have to in my opinion content with that. -- contend with that. and the focus just for a moment on these two men. we talk about them as though they were living. they are not.
many of our visitors think they are. they are realistic museum figures. the man on the right here represents the owner of this plantation. before, during and after the civil war. and the man on the left, james is one prior to the work was a slave and purchased him in the late 1840's. this,as organizing madison has an extremely complex story. q&a to getappy in into the biography, but i wanted to give you a few details to see the possibilities are. he purchases madison in 1847. very quickly he married the housemaid, harriet. they began having children. harriet was already the mother of previous children from a
prior relationship. was believed that madison the most trustworthy of his prewar slaves. itet up this moment here, may not be completely clear from her you are sitting, where he have these two with a dollar bill in between their hands. who is giving her the money? that was my intention of setting this up this way. madison is frequently given money by epps for what he called his good conduct. epps frequently since madison off to run errands and medicine returns with change and supplies, news and good. this is the prewar. epps goes off for a brief military service and leaves the wife and kids at home. they escape in 1862. madison,most trusted joins the 105 other epps'
slaves escaping in 1862. after the war, december 1855, harriet and her children, as epps wrote, paid me a visit. most former slaves and former slaveholders are not sitting down in december of 1865 and having tea and cookies. we don't what they talked about, but soon thereafter madison and harriet are back at work for the family. once you have more biography, as visitors do on our tours, but not much more. why did slaves stay or return to former owners? what sort of wages do these people get paid? what type of living condition did freed people have now? dedicated -- i
should call this the regular house tour. i entitled this "destruction and reconstruction." something has to be gone first. the sites included city point where we got more into details about this world. another plantation site in the sort of outfield area of the artwork if overshooting and killing and dying. the final stop was at the crater battlefield. not to talk about the details of the mine or the colored troops and white troops, but how the former confederate states dealt with ways to commemorate destroyed and damaged bodies as a result of the war. at the appomattox courthouse, which maybe i should have organized first, they had been doing this kind of work since the 1980's. peter carmichael was giving living history programs back in the day.
you can pick which part of the day he liked -- you like to imagine him there. they had people now representing characters who really lived and appomattox county, if not in the village itself. we have -- and i was just there recently. william christian is a radically sad that slavery is over. he hates union troops. he wants his slaves back. in contrast we have some in representing a note recently freed person. we have a former confederate soldier and an occupying union soldier. and so here we are in the summer of 1865. about anythinge after the date in the summer of 1865. folks seemed to get some enjoyment out of trying to connect with the past. this living history and battle
reenactment, even though i know many people are uncomfortable but that, is a way folks trying to see a lens into a past that is hard to see. it is easier for the civil war than it is for reconstruction. it takes place on a smaller level, a more intimate level at appomattox. people can sort of explore the difficulties that had been laid out by many people here. chickamauga and chattanooga national military park. they had programming they have already done. they have programming they have --do to interpret p this interpret this period. a friend of mine worked with community leaders to put together a program in downtown hastanooga where the park its headquarters in visitor center and all that stuff. in december of 1865, which is what you see here, to
commemorate the 13th amendment's ratification. lee white still have to do programs this year, tackling veterans that returned to their battlefield. it's everybody's battlefield. as well as union and confederate leaders that surrogate chickamauga or chattanooga and have prominent postwar lives. some of them not very uplifting and the way we may want them to be, but in a way that is crucial to understand as greg set the dramatic and violent. period of reconstruction. that is rival end -- that is where i will end so we can get our chat started. [applause] >> since we are in gettysburg i wonder if we can move from some of the specifics that emmanuel
mentioned talking about these individual battle sites to talk more broadly about the strength and weaknesses of battlefield sites as platforms for interpreting reconstruction. what are some of your ideas about strategies that battlefield sites can use to interpret reconstruction and very site-specific ways and also introduce visitors to these larger, broader currents? ok. >> something is too short for me. i think one of the challenges is that often our visitors come to hear because they don't know about the nuts and bolts of how did this army get here, why did he come here, why did the other army chase them or get caught at a place? what are the details of the military events from x date to x
date? that is a big challenge. when people come. grant is the story, then there is the plantation. i didn't know that was here, in the same way they don't know that winfield scott in the aftermath of the war was a big democrat and used his military prowess to strengthen his political campaigning. that is not very useful to recently freed people across the country. i think that is a challenge. i think our solution is to start to look beyond the nuts and bolts. it's not going to work for every program and every place it every time. i will say that now. but monuments are not put up during the battle, they are put up after the war is over, whenever that is. dateould open up that the
-- i don't want to open up that debate, but clearly there is an objective from the people who put them up to have themselves represented at a time where they in crisis about how people are going to remember them, or something in between. and so i think we have the on thenity, and i sat overview yesterday were he briefly did this. i can take you to attend monuments and we can do the post civil war history of these people's lives and they may change what visitors expect of folks like chamberlain and hancock and lee and henry benning. they are still important. these people use their wartime experience to shape their postwar dramatic and colorful cells. >> that is a really good
question. we had this conversation all the time in terms of parks. when people following up on what the manual says, when people think battlefields they think this clear, open area for some reason. not realizing that oftentimes the battlefield was someone's home site. people lived in the middle of these battles. their homes are being shelled. it may have happened over their crops, or they were out that day foraging or hunting and all of a sudden a battle pops up around them. oftentimes we have to contend with the expectation of our visitors because a historical site is the information, the interpretation, and also the visitation.
we have to deal with all three of those things. again we have to also in the national park service, our park units are designated for a legislated reason. our interpretation is often times bound by whatever the legislated reason that it is designated a park site. many of these are designated for the battle's significance without telling these larger stories or thinking about these larger stories, or other stories that play into the site. responsibility to find these stories and then have the information available for when the visitor will allow you to sneak something in. [laughter] that's an opportunity and a challenge. >> these are all great. the two pieces i would add is it
seems as a nonspecialist there are three ways we saw happening. one of which was the high macro level. what were the effects of the war? the personal level. who was there and what became of them? that speaks to the examples that emmanuel has given. and the geographic level. what happened here in other time periods? a place for you can see the park leaders working to provide this within the framework of a fairly limited legislative enactment. a place like vicksburg. the vicksburg battlefield is evidently, dennis eads line and so on. reconstruction it is the site of one of the major racial mac sugars -- massacres in vicksburg. you take place on the battlefield park site. booker t. washington comes to visit on the battlefield site in the 1890's to extend beyond
mager evers. both its physical beauty but also what represented about the triumph of the united states over the confederacy. it is possible then within this framework not only to do the broad abstract historical story which we historians are professionally attached to the sometimes find easy to skim over. >> equestrians -- questions from all of you? please feel free to come up to the microphone. >> this is my favorite part. >> media pennsylvania. you mentioned something about -- they decide what you are going to do.
i wasn't quite sure what that was? the last five minutes you were talking about legislative -- there is a legislature, some legislature that determines what you are going to do? >> sorry. i went into the almost political part of park unit being designated. area are two ways that an becomes a national park unit. it is either congressionally is designated by the president of the united states as a national monument. either the proclamation or the congressional legislation by law lists out reason that the national park is being. established some type of national significance. it could be a historical significance such as , themorating gettysburg
death of the soldiers at gettysburg. or it could be to commemorate bold -- the life of a historic person such as the ulysses s grant national historic site, or one of those natures. legislation, the national significance, for reason why the park was established, we are mandated to interpret that reason. resources arer such the national park service that we have no time to do anything else except to a unitet the reason why was congressionally designated. sometimes there isn't a choice due to capacity or lack of information about what
information is presented at the park. >> ok, just a follow-up. do the states, like pittsburgh -- vicksburg, mississippi have any say in how you interpret it? >> not in terms of the legislation, if that is what you mean. we have lots of partners that give us information and we are seekinglly speaking -- more information or stories we can relate in the park, but not in the way i think you are asking. state senator, state congressman comes over to the national park service and says we want to save this. >> no. >> thank you. >> hi. sure if this is a civil war memory or an example of the
civil war. in battery park in wilmington, vermont, i think everyone is familiar with the statute of william wells. that is not an original casting. the original casting -- i'm just wondering if you have a it is not in a strictly military setting, if that qualifies. >> i don't know. park with a total of 12 monuments. i stay away from monuments. [laughter]
>> i am not sure either. that would be something we could look into if you come up and give us a more of the details. hi. .een addiction -- ena dixon had while things i you are talking was what are some sites that cannot tell a reconstruction era story? what have been some challenges you have met in doing this work where the story does not fit here, or cannot be interpreted in this way that we would like? i have not encountered a park for a story cannot be told. like i said, these places existed during reconstruction. something happened there during
reconstruction that you can tell others about, find information about. to be candid, some of the challenges we encountered are those who are uncomfortable with the stories that have happened. to get some toge engage in the conversation. we have a lot of park units where the descendents of the contact inin close everyday situations with the descendents of a slaveholder. so there is sensitivity there. i'm thinking of cane river creole national historical park, which i was just acting superintendent at. that site interprets 300 years of history.
volunteer who was a descendent of one of the enslaved families. granddaughter, the last surviving member direct descendent of the family that lived across the street. both of them volunteer at the park. there are sensitivities in terms of telling the story because they know some of the actors. that has been one of the challenges in terms of telling those reconstruction stories. i would like to present this question to anyone who would like to answer it. in new orleans at the foot of canal street there was or is a marker commemorating the racial disturbances during reconstruction. i believe it's going to be or it
has been taken down. i wonder what do you as professional historians think should be done with the markers of this type concerning reconstruction? would it be to leave them alone, take them down or replace them with something more appropriate? >> all start. -- i will start. i would say it depends on the sign. that she knowsgs you having then at parks in her job and a superintendent, we think about signs in the park service every day. even when we are not at work we still think about signs. we don't think about anything else but the interpretive signs in the safety of our buildings in the collections within. written inre distinctive periods.
i already said it was the greatest because we have the old estate highlight -- oldest state highly marker programs, but some of those were written in the 1940's. awas speaking with participant in the danville race riot. it's not like there is a big with the whites killing people in the streets of danville. it will not say that even if it did. something -- sometimes the signs need to be rewritten. sometimes they had be taken down temporarily so we can replace in kind. sometimes there are places that need signs. were issues with signs and maintenance, but if you don't know the historical events took
place in communities because there is nothing is a great physicallyr the -- remaining or the people have long since gone away and there is no sort of oral history reminder, than i do think it's the job of public historians, academic historians, local people interested in history to say i need something here to commemorate this event. good, bad or ugly. let me start by saying something optimistic. sometimes it's a way of dodging your question that i will come back to. there arepointed out, lots of examples of good things happening. the national park service was a direct contributor to was in memphis with the first ever commemoration of the massacre indexes in 1866, something national park service with the help of historians put together. some of these historians were a part of it. that originated out of her
frustration out of an effort to make a new sign blocked by the state historical commission on political grounds. that and let people in memphis on the ground to look for avenues where they could get some help and the national park service stepped in to help. it generated a powerful conversation. i think one goal should be to have more conversation. if we think about how to commemorate, the commemoration is to lead a more conversations and not fewer. in that context i think it's a really profound question. at the same time in memphis the question of the site of the re-internment of nathan bedford forrest had been a little issue. as have the sites in new theans, or not as yet marker in colfax that celebrates the martyrs who died for white supremacy. and can attack and murder of
surrendering african-american officeholders. some data will be something that people will have to debate. i do believe this -- those are moments in a democracy what they mark and represent has to represent the people that are represented there. them as they define excluding the african-americans. the local democratic process has to work in a way that they hear from a majority of the people about what will be the most meaningful to them to have things move or retained but with excellent nations, or counter memorials. i think there are all kinds of creative ways of the solution lies in who is represented and what they feel would be the most to get done. >> i think the panelists would be happy to talk with you individually at the back if you have further questions. [applause]
>> saturday, september 24, joint american history tv. we will be live at 10:00 a.m. eastern from the national museum of african american history and culture. president obama is excited to join the opening ceremony for the smithsonian's newest museum on the national mall. >> coming up next on american we talk about the history of the washington, d.c. mansion named tudor place in the -- and the descendents of george and martha washington who live there from the late 18th century until the end of the 20th century. he also discusses the artifacts, including the washington's personal items. the daughters of the american revolution museum posted this 45 -- posted this 45 minute event. katie cannon: our current exhibit is remembering the american revolution. 1776 to 1890.